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GD for 2 and 3 year olds constant fighting

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
My older boys are 2.5 and almost 4 and they are at it constantly. W will take J's food. J will push W. W will hit J for pushing him. All. Day. Long. I spend the majority of their waking hours saying "don't hit bubby. Don't push bubby. That made bubby sad, how can you make him feel better?" I try to use separation ie: "please go cool off in your room until you are ready to treat him kindly" I don't feel like anything I'm doing is effective. It doesn't help that they share a room and seem to have a gravitational pull towards each other -- I send one to his room the other follows and the fighting starts all over.

I'm curious if I should just let them work out their disagreements on their own (as long as no one is getting hurt badly) I read somewhere, can't name the source to save my life, that American kids have a harder time handling conflicts because of the constant interference from parents. That makes sense to me. It doesn't make sense to let my kids bash each others heads in though. Has anyone ever taken this approach?

Opinions on making them apologize? I can tell its never sincere, so is there really a point? I try to take the "hitting hurts. See him cry? That made him sad." approach but I don't know what good it's doing.
post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 
Anyone?
post #3 of 4

A lot of parents use the "letting them work it out on their own method" as you described, as long as no one is getting seriously hurt. It is sometimes recommended here and is considered to fit in the realm of gentle discipline. And it can be a relief for the parents, who are generally worn out all day from negotiating conflicts.

 

I don't like it because I don't believe the skills to work out a conflict without resorting to power struggles, bullying, manipulating, etc come easily to younger children. I think it takes a larger view of the world to be able to see why fair and gentle negotiation is better in the long run, when tricking or sneaking or manipulating or being outright rough with your sibling works faster and the results are more immediate. Plus there seems to be something they get from the fight itself that tends to prolong the fight. Stimulation, freedom from boredom, testing wills... something. Their intent in an argument doesn't always seem to be to get what they want. It often seems to be the argument itself and maybe the feeling of winning. Lord of the Flies comes to mind when children who are age-appropriately self-centered, don't have have the bigger picture in mind, and are incapable of perceiving another person's point of view yet try to resolve conflicts without guidance.

 

I wish I had some good advice for how to turn it around. Everything you are doing sounds perfect and although its hard work, it will pay off in spades in a few years. Its possible you might spend a little more time teaching them to negotiate the conflict itself, although you might already be doing this (from your post it sounds like you're intervening AFTER there's problems; a little more on the other end might help. But it could also be you just didn't mention all you're doing to de-escalate before the hitting or screaming happens).

 

Here's some advice from NVC:

 

  • Teach your child to use “I” messages. This can be trickier than it sounds. You want your child to learn effective “I” messages, such as “I am mad that my toy is broken,” rather than “I hate that you broke my toy!” Effective “I” messages identify what a person is feeling and why without blaming.
  • Focus on the conflict at hand. When people get upset, they tend to drag in past transgressions to fuel their anger. Focus on working through only the current conflict.
  • Listen. Ask kids how they suggest the conflict be resolved. Too often, parents try to intervene too quickly and take charge of the situation. Give kids the chance to work through differences. Stay close but see how far they can get peacefully talking to each other before you jump in.
  • Encourage kids to admit when they’ve made a mistake. It’s important for kids to realize when they’ve done something wrong and to admit it.
  • Brainstorm specific solutions. When kids are new to resolving conflicts, they often don’t know how to solve them. Sometimes having an adult name a variety of solutions can help kids begin to think of what works for them—and what doesn’t. Over time (and with practice), they’ll come up with their own creative solutions.
  • Resolving conflicts peacefully is a complex skill. Notice what your child is doing right (such as calming down before trying to talk it out) rather than what he is doing wrong.

 

At their ages, its just going to be hard, really. Its the hardest time of all. In a few years it will get so much easier because they will already have a pretty good foundation for resolving conflicts, will be better at seeing the other person's point of view, will have developed some ability for empathy.

 

My brother and I (23 months apart in age) rarely fought as children. Our parents had zero tolerance for hitting, raising our voices to each other, arguing over toys, any of that. We'd either immediately lose the toy we were arguing over, get sent to separate rooms for hours, lose the TV, get spanked - my parents were firm and fairly harsh. I wouldn't recommend being that firm or harsh, and also they didn't teach us how to solve conflicts but they sure did ensure we didn't ever fight. But its also an option, if you can't stand the constant fighting and are completely worn out, to use a firmer and swifter consequence to preserve your sanity. I think this is better than allowing them to work it out on their own and develop methods of resolving conflicts that later they have to unlearn. But I think what you are doing now is probably the best approach, even though its so challenging and wears you out.

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

 

I don't like it because I don't believe the skills to work out a conflict without resorting to power struggles, bullying, manipulating, etc come easily to younger children. I think it takes a larger view of the world to be able to see why fair and gentle negotiation is better in the long run, when tricking or sneaking or manipulating or being outright rough with your sibling works faster and the results are more immediate. Plus there seems to be something they get from the fight itself that tends to prolong the fight. Stimulation, freedom from boredom, testing wills... something. Their intent in an argument doesn't always seem to be to get what they want. It often seems to be the argument itself and maybe the feeling of winning. Lord of the Flies comes to mind when children who are age-appropriately self-centered, don't have have the bigger picture in mind, and are incapable of perceiving another person's point of view yet try to resolve conflicts without guidance.

 

 

I think you have some very good advice, actually.  I also believe it doesn't help to leave them entirely to themselves to work things out.  My girls are forever dragging up conflicts from the past, ongoing conflicts, and any other ammunition they have to throw at each other--even the occasional half-hearted swing (which shows me they know they aren't supposed to but are too angry to stop themselves).  Every conflict winds up being about the consistent stress of living and dealing with each other.   Occasionally, the fight becomes vindictive.  Kids should not be left to fend for themselves all the time.

 

They hate when I interfere, but also they seem somewhat relieved, though they try hard not to show it.  My parents were the opposite of BC's, mom rarely interfered because there was no physical conflict, and as the youngest and the smallest I felt powerless.  Some younger kids find their teeth in the face of constant torment and fighting, but I was not that child and I don't want my girls to feel like I did nothing to help.  My youngest has been finding her metaphorical teeth.  She is deciding that she doesn't always want to be "nice" because it means letting my dominating dd1 get her way.  DD2 is tired of that.  I'm glad, because we are all tired of that.  DD1 screams and protests, but you know..... sigh!  The trick for me is to find a way to show both of them that I am their advocate.  I try to be even handed and make sure I am not scolding one of them exclusively, because really it's never all the fault of one of them.

 

BTW, my girls are 6 and 8 (!) and I feel like we are dealing with something that should have been resolved years ago.  Sometimes the struggle simply doesn't go away that readily, no matter what you do.  I haven't tried shear terror yet, and I won't obviously, but it can be frustrating trying to find constructive solutions.  The list BC gave sounds like an excellent place to start.

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